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Physics in Perspective

, Volume 16, Issue 1, pp 37–68 | Cite as

Engineering the Big Chill: The Story of JLab’s Central Helium Liquefier

  • Catherine WestfallEmail author
Article

Abstract

This article tells the story of the Central Helium Liquefier (CHL) at the Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility (JLab), one of the US National Laboratories. JLab’s successful superconducting radio frequency accelerator was only possible because a group of JLab engineers successfully tackled a complex of difficulties to build a cryogenic system that included the CHL, a task that required advancing the frontier of cryogenic technology. Ultimately, these cryogenic advances were applied far beyond JLab to the benefit of cutting-edge programs at other US national laboratories (Oak Ridge, Brookhaven, and the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams at MSU) as well as NASA. This innovation story dramatizes the sort of engineer-driven technological problem solving that allows the successful launch and operation of experimental projects. Along the way, the CHL story also provides an important addition to our understanding of the role played by engineers and industry in creating knowledge at physics laboratories.

Keywords

Claus Rode Dana Arenius Venkatarao Ganni William Chronis David Kashy Thomas Jefferson National Accelerator Facility JLab US National Laboratories cryogenic engineering Central Helium Liquefier 

Notes

Acknowledgments

This article was written for Jefferson Science Associates, LLC under US DOE Contract No. DE-AC05-06OR23177. The author received support for the interviews in this article from a grant-in-aid from the Friends of the Center for History of Physics, American Institute of Physics. The US Government retains a non-exclusive, paid-up, irrevocable, world-wide license to publish or reproduce this manuscript for US Government purposes. The author wishes to thank Dana Arenius, Lawrence Cardman, Venkatarao Ganni, David Kashy, and Claus Rode for much technical information and assistance. She also wants to thank Peter Pesic and Robert Crease for their patience and astute editing.

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Copyright information

© Springer Basel 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Lyman Briggs CollegeMichigan State UniversityEast LansingUSA

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